The Secret Little Agency (TSLA) and Mother Holdings have struck a global strategic partnership. This will also result in a joint venture between both companies in Shanghai with Mother Shanghai. The move also comes one year after TSLA made its first foray into the Shanghai market with the opening of its new office.
The new expansion move looks to form an independent global network for both agencies across major creative hubs. This includes the Americas, Los Angeles, New York and Buenos Aires; Europe, London; Asia, Singapore and Shanghai. This will allow for a broader reach in both talent pool and cultures for its clients and teams.
According to the press statement, TSLA’s refreshed leadership of Nicholas Ye (pictured second from left), Julia Wei, Hanyi Lee, Eunice Tan, Mavis Neo (pictured far right) and Kris Kam will remain in post. This is bolstered by a direct line of support to Mother’s creative and strategic leadership.
In a conversation with Marketing, a Mother spokesperson confirmed there would be no changes in leadership. Through the move, both agencies aim to provide clients access to an “unparalleled network of world-leading creative, strategic and production expertise”, and both agencies are already working on several projects.
“We’ve had a crush on Mother for some time now. Mother doesn’t just create great work. It moves culture. To do this sustainably, independently and together with friends from three other continents, is a future we’re definitely looking forward to,” Nicholas Ye, founder of TSLA, said in a press statement.
Read also: The Independents: TSLA
TSLA was founded in Singapore in 2007 by Ye and Neo. It also counts brands such as Singapore Economic Development board (EDB), Telenor, Tiger Beer and Netflix as its key clients both regionally and globally. It was recently appointed by Mandai Park Development in September as its lead creative agency.
Currently, Mother has offices in London, New York, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires and work with brands such as Baileys, Stella Artois, KFC, IKEA, Target and MoneySuperMarket.com. TSLA meanwhile, is known for its work on brands such as Netflix, Zespri and Milo for Nestle. There are no conflicting clients in this arrangement.
Michael Wall, global CEO of Mother Holdings, added that the culture, outlook and ambition of Mother and The Secret Little Agency are “uncannily similar”. However, the one obvious difference is geography.
“We have been working on an informal basis for a little while now. It quickly became evident that as a bigger, joined up family we’d be able to offer our people and our clients even greater opportunities,” Wall said.
Greg Paull, principal consultant and co-founder at R3 added that the best agencies in China are digital centric and social first.
“It’s a challenge to come to China as a ‘legacy’ creative agency with an above the line focus. TSLA has always been an insight and ideas led agency. This approach should stand them will in the Middle Kingdom,” he added.
Paull also added that China continues to be one of the most dynamic and most progressive e-commerce, social and digital markets globally.
Marketers and agencies should only avoid it at their peril.
Lawrence Chong, CEO at Consulus added in the last few years, with nationalism in China on rise, having a partner which is not Chinese-dominated in terms of talent will put agencies at a disadvantage.
"Even if you are good in your work, the hard truth is that having a strong player in China matters as business is no longer as straightforward as before," Chong explained. As such, it is no longer enough to just have a presence – or even a subsidiary.
"Agencies and brands must have strong, talented, Chinese-led and local partners when it comes to winning jobs," Chong added.